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Global Health Insurance for Remote Workers

Providing suitable global health insurance to remote teams presents a number of challenges. Here, we’ll cover five ways to provide global health insurance to remote workers, whether you operate as a fully remote company or on a hybrid model.

Blog Author - Janelle Watson
Janelle Watson
Feb 20, 20244 minutes
Blog Author - Janelle Watson
Janelle Watson

Janelle Watson provides content marketing for the international team at Justworks. With a background in higher education and journalism, Janelle helps tell stories that make international expansion and EOR accessible.

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Offering global health insurance involves navigating the complex nature of international regulations, diverse healthcare systems, and varying employee needs. In this dynamic landscape, a thoughtful and strategic approach is essential to providing the necessary coverage and support to remote workers while adhering to local regulations. 

As organizations embrace remote work and expand their operations across borders, ensuring adequate health coverage for their dispersed workforce becomes a critical task. Navigating the intricacies of different countries’ insurance laws, identifying comprehensive coverage options that align with your global workforce’s requirements, and overcoming administrative hurdles pose significant obstacles for HR teams, especially for scaling startups. 

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What should you know about remote work health insurance? 

Across the world, employers are tasked with providing private health insurance or registering employees for government healthcare. Even if it’s not necessary, offering health insurance may be your best bet to attract and retain top talent, and remain competitive during the recruiting process. 

Some countries like Germany and Spain already offer health care provided through their social security system, so understanding how to register remote employees for this government benefit should be a priority for HR.

Maintaining compliance while offering access to private insurance will mean different things in different countries. Depending on where you’re hiring, you’ll need to make sure that you’re meeting the necessary requirements. 

Finding the right remote work health insurance will ensure that you’re providing all employees with similar and fair coverage. 

Contractors

When working with contractors, consider offering them additional pay per project or a higher hourly salary, because they aren’t able to go onto a company insurance plan.  

Contractors should never be put on a businesses insurance policy, as this could lead to classification problems which often have expensive and legal repercussions.  

5 ways to provide global health insurance to remote workers

1. Digital nomad insurance

Those who work as a digital nomad or under a remote work visa usually find their own health insurance that can double as international health and travel insurance. Digital nomads are known to travel frequently between countries and therefore may not be able to have health insurance solely in one country. 

Popular providers for remote health insurance options for digital nomads include: World Nomads, SafteyWing, and Atlas Travel Insurance

Digital nomad insurance typically covers more than just healthcare: 

  • Emergency medical and dental expenses

  • Flight cancellation or delay

  • Baggage loss

  • Lost passport 

  • Political complications that lead to an evacuation

These options typically only work if the person is a digital nomad and moving around a lot. Digital nomads usually need coverage in multiple areas because they often work from anywhere and can run into last minute emergencies. 

2. Traditional health insurance 

Another type of coverage for remote global health insurance is for your business to engage directly with the insurance provider and set up a private health policy. 

However, this route means that you will need to:

  • Have an entity (or home base operation) in one country 

  • Set up an HR team to manage these benefits directly 

You may need to explore different health insurance policy options before deciding what fits your remote workers’ health needs best. If you are a small startup, you may have a workforce spread throughout multiple countries. Trying to open an entity in each place may be difficult, due to cost and time constraints. 

3. Health stipends

A third option that many companies opt into is providing employees with health stipends or wellness stipends. A health stipend allows the employee to purchase their own individual plan that fits their needs (this may be a good choice for contractors if you want to offer additional benefits without putting them on payroll). 

Unfortunately, you aren’t able to get an employee discount (like you can with group healthcare plans), which can lead to additional costs to both the employer and employee. 

4. Reimbursement plans

Another option is to offer a reimbursement plan, which is similar to a health stipend. With this option, companies can give remote employees a reimbursement if they need to seek medical attention. Many employees are nervous to agree to this option, out of fear that they won’t be compensated correctly and may accumulate medical debt. 

Reimbursement plans could end up costing your business more money than just finding a regular plan that has set regulations and deductions. Most importantly, reimbursement plans and stipends normally don’t cover mental health or everyday health and wellness. These options are better suited as solutions for last minute emergency care. 

5. Partner with an EOR

A global EOR like Justworks is an organization that hires and pays international employees on behalf of another small business. EOR is the way to hire and manage overseas workers while staying fully compliant with both countries' labor laws. The most frequent scenario for using an EOR to offer remote health insurance is when a company wants to hire workers abroad but doesn’t have the time or resources to register a local entity. 

An employer of record can be useful for providing distributed teams with health insurance. An EOR takes care of all of the HR processes including health insurance without entity incorporation. The employer-of-record can provide all the legal answers, help with plans and pricing, and suggest standard coverage levels with authority.

What should you be aware of before making health insurance decisions

Before deciding, you should understand exactly what is required for employees based on where they’ll be working remotely. 

Compliance is key when deciding on what remote health insurance to provide. For example, in the United States, employment is considered at-will, meaning employers are not required to provide any types of benefits to employees unless their business meets very specific criteria. In Mexico, however, you need to register employees for social security (at baseline) and offer private health insurance to be considered a competitive employer. 

The insurance industry is already full of confusing hurdles, and having remote employees in different countries only adds to this complexity. Before you decide on what type of remote healthcare to provide your employees, make sure that you’re asking them what is non-negotiable and what they expect out of their plan. 

How Justworks Provides International EOR Services for Small Business

Through Justworks, you can now expand the boundaries of your talent search without setting up a local entity. Focus on building your team, and leave worrying about the nitty-gritty of HR and international compliance to us. 

Our team of local labor lawyers and experts ensure that your small business always remains compliant while expanding internationally. We handle the responsibility side of things so you can focus on what matters: managing your team. 

Learn more about how you can expand your international business through Justworks, and get started today

This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, legal or tax advice. If you have any legal or tax questions regarding this content or related issues, then you should consult with your professional legal or tax advisor.
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Written By
Blog Author - Janelle Watson
Janelle Watson
Feb 20, 20244 minutes

Janelle Watson provides content marketing for the international team at Justworks. With a background in higher education and journalism, Janelle helps tell stories that make international expansion and EOR accessible.

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